From Seed to Trees: charity review

This is a charity review of From Seed to Trees (FST), an organisation that gives information online on how to give to it and is an ‘Associate Organisation’ of Missions Interlink.

For the previous review, see here.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • There is no invitation on the website to give feedback or to make a complaint. Nor is there any mention of accountability.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is FST registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • But the ‘Ltd’ at the end has been accidentally omitted.
  • FST is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • Not, as it says in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017, an incorporated association.
    • It does not appear to have the provisions in its constitution necessary for it to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ from the end of its name. So, as it does not have From Seed to Trees (or any other name) registered, the use of this name publicly (as on the website) is questionable.
  • FST said, in the AIS 2017, that it planned to fundraise in Queensland. It still doesn’t have a licence there (it is not exempt)[1].

What does FST do?

  • There’s a little here, but better is the 2017 ‘May FSST Newsletter’ (assuming this is still the current range of activities).
  • It is not clear how where what is reporting in the AIS 2017 fits in:
    • developing the principles of good leadership. Training of others as leaders. Giving education in religious development, and
    • We are involved with young leaders who help other students who come from other countries. The leadership develops good relationships (sic) and are able to help with their studies.
  • They invite people to go on ‘mission’ trips.
  • And perhaps the planned changes mentioned in the AIS 2017 have come to pass:
    • Changes planned One of the great (sic) needs to be addressed is bribery. How it effects the country financially but also has a big impact on the way people live. This is a difficult issue and we are still learning.
  • The ACNC Register says that FST operates in Belarus, Moldova (Republic), and Romania.

Do they share the Gospel[2]?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • ‘Other expenses/payments’ were 41% of the total (up from 28%). (The other 59% was for ‘Grants…outside Australia’.) The dollar figures are very small though.

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is no prohibition in the constitution.
  • But no financial information has been published to check for a payment.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA – online giving is not offered.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • None shown on the website.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • No financial statements have been published.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (seven months after year end, a week before the deadline and the same time as last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: Not quite – FST is not an incorporated association.
  • Financial Report 2017: Yes
    • Although FST didn’t, because of its small size, have to submit a Financial Report, their Associate membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.”  So just ask.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • The equity appears to consist entirely of the $2K surplus.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • If an audit was performed the result has not been made public.

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete/correct?

  • Not quite – there’s still a message ‘Charity to select subtype’.
  • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank (but neither are compulsory).
    • There’s a phone number, another email address (and a postal address), here.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website, but
  • Shown under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register:

To whom is FST accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And, as a company, still for some things to ASIC.
  • To Missions Interlink, because it’s an Associate member.

 

 

  1. It is possible that one of more of the other states that have a licensing regime for registered charities would hold that FST’s online encouragement to the public to donate would mean that a licence was required.
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.

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